Loyalty programmes come in all shapes and sizes. But the point of them all is to keep customers coming back to you rather than switching to a competitor. In order for it to work, customers need to see what your loyalty programme offers. To do that, you need those offers to cut through all the noise they have in their lives, in their email, and in their shopping. One of the best ways to do that is by using SMS messaging.
Emarketer reported on a study of 3,500 US internet users who were asked various questions on loyalty programmes. As you can see in the image below, almost half of the respondents said they preferred SMS messaging for their loyalty programmes.
More than twice as many people preferred SMS over the next largest category, email. It isn’t hard to imagine why. I’ll use myself as an example. Over the years I’ve signed up for dozens, if not a hundred, email lists for stores that I’ve shopped at or was interested in. My Gmail inbox filters those emails into the “promotions” tab automatically (for the most part). So guess what? I never see them.
In fact, my eyes glaze over when I go into that section of my email. So usually I just use the search bar if I’m interested in seeing if a particular brand has a sale. Only their emails will pop up, and I can now see what’s there. Have I missed special members-only sales, point redemptions and deals this way? Yes, but I’d go crazy trying to sort through a hundred emails every day.
Could I unsubscribe to some of them? Yes, but I’m lazy. And so are most people when it comes to email. It’s much easier to just ignore the ones we don’t want than to bother with finding the options to unsubscribe – which, depending on the company, may not work right anyway.
Even for people who don’t use Gmail’s auto-sort feature, it’s difficult to review and find emails in all the clutter we get each day. Email just piles up, most of it never gets read.
So for the retailers I really care about, I sign up for their SMS message lists. Sometimes they come with loyalty programmes, sometimes it’s just a marketing list. Either way I know I’m seeing the deals that I want to see.
That’s why SMS is preferred for loyalty programmes. If someone has signed up for a loyalty programme it means they care about the brand. They want to be sure they don’t miss any deals especially for loyal customers. And SMS is the only channel where you can guarantee the customer will receive and read the messages. It’s usually one of the easiest ways to redeem messages too.
Depending how a loyalty programme is set up, the customer can receive mobile coupon codes, or links to coupons they can then simply show at checkout. Or perhaps the company links to their mobile website where the coupon is already activated when customers click the link.
Some companies even take it a step farther and let customers request information about their reward account. Using keywords, they can ask for their point balance for example. This interaction creates a deeper connection between the customer and the retailer because it’s so easy for them to use. And even if it’s an automated answer, customer’s will feel like the company cares more than one who doesn’t offer the service.
I’ve seen different numbers floated about, but most people belong to at least twice as many loyalty programs as they actually use. By that I mean they sign up, but never redeem anything or make purchases from loyalty offers. Much of this is because of email overload. It’s also because the person may have signed up to get a deal at the time, but doesn’t feel any loyalty at all to the brand. But this probably happens less than you might think.
When you offer an SMS loyalty programme, you know the people who sign up are loyal customers. Yes, there will be some small percentage who sign up then either opt out or never participate. But that percentage will be lower than other channels. For now at least, most people place a value on their mobile number and won’t just give it out to anyone.
If you’re one of the lucky few who get their number, realise how special that is and keep them engaged with a great loyalty programme. And remember, they want you to use SMS messages. Why not oblige them?